Museums rile amateur photographers with ban on selfie sticks

UK institutions consider whether to follow US lead and prohibit camera craze

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The Independent Culture

Some of the most famous museums in the world have banned “selfie sticks” because of fears that people using them might damage artworks and disrupt fellow visitors.

As the popularity of the telescopic rods used to take photographs grows, cultural institutions in Britain are considering whether to follow their US counterparts and ban the item.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the latest American institution to prohibit the device, which allows users to take more panoramic and flattering self-portraits with their smartphones or cameras.

The Met’s decision follows a string of US institutions outlawing “selfie sticks”, including the Museum of Modern Art, also in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston.

Even Mar Dixon, a consultant, who started Museum Selfie day in the UK, said she was “absolutely not a selfie-stick fan”.

She added: “It makes sense in those crowded gallery areas to prevent them. It gets silly. The stick is just obnoxious, it’s in your face and it’s not needed.”

The National Gallery in central London – which only allowed visitor photography for the first time last year – has banned selfie sticks.

A spokeswoman said they were not permitted under the same rules that prohibits the use of tripods.

The British Museum, the most popular UK visitor attraction in 2013 with 6.7 million visits, is “currently reviewing” the use of selfie sticks, although it has not been formally discussed by management.

Other UK institutions are watching closely. The National Portrait Gallery said it was aware some visitors used selfie sticks.

It said: “It is important that all our visitors enjoy their experience of the gallery and anything that may prove disruptive is reviewed on an ongoing basis.”